Boris Johnson apologizes to British woman jailed in Iran
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday apologized to a British woman jailed in Iran, saying comments he made about her situation “could and should have been clearer.”
Johnson returned from Brussels to answer an urgent question in the House of Commons about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian citizen jailed for five years on espionage charges after being arrested while on holiday last year.
Johnson last week said that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been in Iran to train journalists.
“That was my mistake. I should have been clearer. I apologize for the distress and anguish that has been caused to Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family,” Johnson said Monday. “There is nothing more important than the safe return of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.”
He later said he apologized for the “distress and suffering” caused by his remarks.
He added: “I do apologize, I do apologize and of course I retract any suggestion that she was there in a professional capacity.”
Johnson is meeting Richard Ratcliffe, her husband, later this week, and plans to travel to Iran this year.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said there had been a week of “obfuscation and bluster” from Johnson.
Four days after Johnson made his earlier comments, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was taken to an unscheduled court hearing in Tehran on charges of “propaganda against the regime,” carrying the threat of five more years in prison, the Times said. The Iranian judiciary cited Johnson’s remarks as evidence that she had lied about what she was doing in the country, the newspaper said.